The beat goes on for the CU men’s basketball team, and it sounds awfully like a heartbeat.
“If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Colorado Buffaloes because it was meant to be,” head coach Tad Boyle said after the Buffaloes’ win.
CU came out of seemingly nowhere to win the Pac-12 Championship that automatically qualifies the Buffs for the NCAA Tournament with a 53-51 win over the University of Arizona Wildcats.
Head Coach Tad Boyle celebrates after winning the Pac-12 championship game against Arizona 53-51. (CU Independent/Andy McDonnell)
In the last four seasons, the Buffs basketball program has seen the lowest of lows and, now, the highest of highs. Almost a year ago, Colorado had nearly assured themselves a spot in the Big Dance despite not winning their conference tournament. Colorado was confident they were in, then the rug was pulled right from under their feet.
“We dedicated this game beforehand to Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, Marcus Relphorde, Trent Beckley, Javon Coney and Alec Burks,” Boyle said about the day that was one of the most traumatic events in his coaching career. “These six sat in my home last year on Selection Sunday for their last opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament, and they were snubbed. That inspired us.”
Whether it was inspiration, revenge or just plain unfinished business, the Buffs will be going to their first NCAA Tournament since the 2002-2003 season. But for the four seniors, Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson in particular, who played significant minutes as freshman on a nine win team, this win is beyond gratifying.
Senior guard Nate Tomlinson, right, celebrates with teammates after the Saturday Pac-12 championship win over Arizona, 53-51. Freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie lead the Buffs with with 14 points. (CU Independent/Andy McDonnell)
“It’s hard to explain in words what it means,” Dufault, the all-time leader in games played at Colorado, said. “There have been so many ups and downs for the last four years. But I’ve just treasured every moment at CU for the last four years. The tough ones have only made me a better person along with my teammates. We couldn’t have gotten to this point without going through ups and downs. We just came together today and played through the ups and downs again, and got it done.”
Colorado didn’t make it easy on themselves. The Buffs were forced to win four games in four nights. Each win wore on CU, but in the end, did not hinder their ability to make the plays when they needed to.
“Guys were making plays,” tournament MVP Carlon Brown said. “Guys were making the right reads whether it was passing, scoring and getting in the passing lane. Just a credit to all of my teammates. We just really wanted this and we weren’t going to be denied.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Andy McDonnell at Andrew.email@example.com.
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